Comparison Of Oedipus And Hamlet

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 To be resilient is synonymous with being elastic and persistent. How does a single person possess this unimaginable trait? Both Oedipus and Hamlet have their fair share of tragedies. Oedipus suffers a life based on a prophecy that says he is going to conduct patricide, incest and eventually go blind (205), Hamlet likewise is facing the task of eliminating his father’s killer through the instruction of the father’s ghost (Act 1, Scene 5, pg 3). In both situations, the tragic heroes face a herculean task in becoming the ultimate tragic hero.

Despite the fact that Oedipus fate was predetermined, he is resilient and undertakes various acts to subvert this. Upon realization of his destiny (205), he immediately leaves Corinth for the city of Thebes (205). Also, when Tiresias informs him that “once I have said what I came here to say. I will never shrink from the anger in your eyes— you can’t destroy me. Listen to me closely: the man you’ve sought so long, proclaiming, cursing up and down, the murderer of Laius— he, is here. A stranger, you may think, who lives among you, he soon will be revealed a native Theban but he will take no joy in the revelation. Blind who now has eyes, beggar who now is rich, he will grope his way toward a foreign soil, a stick tapping before him step by step” (Sophocles 185), Oedipus immediately initiates action by sending his brother-in-law Creon to Delphi to seek what can be done (162). Hamlet’s fate is likewise predetermined, and he also shows resilience. When king Hamlet’s ghost appears to Hamlet and directs him to seek revenge for his murder (Act 1, scene 5, pg 3). Hamlet acted rather cautiously. He takes steps like acting mad (Act 2, scene 2, pg 10) and directing a play (Act 2, scene 2, pg 21) to see how King Claudius will react. He shows a resilient spirit in getting to know the truth though in his own way.

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Oedipus is a persistent seeker of truth who never doubts himself, and he always disregards the danger truth might bring to him. When Oedipus is informed that reason for the plague epidemic in his community (Thebes) is due to an unresolved murder of the previous King Laius (176) he put all machineries in motion to ensure that the truth is revealed. Unlike Oedipus, the search for truth unsettles Hamlet and makes him act rather irrational. He can be termed as passive, but nevertheless he is unrelenting in his pursuit of truth as well. When he discovers that his mother marries his uncle soon after the death of his father (Act 1, scene 1. Pg 1), he knows something is wrong. However, Hamlet is more of an intellectual than a warrior and so precedes his action with much contemplation and reflection of events.

Oedipus does not hesitate to take swift decisions. When it becomes apparent that Queen Jocasta is his mother (243) he does not think twice before saying “You, you’ll see no more the pain I suffered, all the pain I caused! Too long you looked on the ones you never should have seen; blind to the ones you longed to see, to know! Blind from this hour on! Blind in the darkness—blind!“ (Sophocles,237). In contrast, Hamlet continually postpones his decision. He tries to obtain more certain knowledge about the decision he is about to make. When he had the chance to kill Claudius, he reneges simply because he believed Claudius is praying for forgiveness, and he might send him to Heaven (Act 3, scene 3, pg 4). Hamlet indecision is his tragic flaw.

From the foregoing, it can be deduced that Oedipus demonstrates the unimaginable traits of resilience better than Hamlet. In spite of the fact that Oedipus fate is predetermined (which he is aware of) he demonstrates unparalleled effort in averting his destiny. He goes all out to seek the truth even if it is against him and upon realizing the truth he doesn’t hesitate to take the painful decision by following his convictions even as he gouged his eyes and exiled himself (237). Oedipus passion and willingness to retain his beliefs even when he faces imminent doom is worthy of admiration as a highly impressive example of resilience. Hamlet, in turn is looking to ratify his action throughout the narrative and this eventually leads to his death and that of others (Act 5, scene 2, pg 16). Hence, I would conclude by saying Oedipus resilience skills are greater and more admirable. 


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